Category Archives: gardening

the fruit of my labor

garden

The fruit (and veggies) of my labor picked today.

The Yukon potatoes were the total yield grown in 2 tires, and there are still 3 traditional rows to harvest. I’d say there’s 20 pounds on the table, at least.

Lord, help me not waste this harvest.

And maybe I mean that literally and figuratively.

See you Thursday, friends.


2013 garden update

 

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. •Gertrude Jekyll 

garden update

Alrighty. We’ve had a full month’s sun and rain on the 2013 garden and here is where we stand:

The broccoli is simply amazing. Awesome. I’ve never succeeded with broccoli before and have no clue why it worked this year, but I know have a couple of quart bags of broccoli florets in my freezer. I soaked them in saltwater first to remove any hidden insects and then blanched them before freezing them. [link to preserving fresh broccoli]

The onions? Can barely see them. Their potato neighbors have grown to be 5-feet tall and have kept the root crop avenue crowded but protected… like Franklin Street. Both crops are doing well with no bugs thus far. I can’t let Abby in there, though. If she got in the potato patch, I’d never find her again.

Cherry tomatoes and canning tomatoes are doing well. Lots of green fruit on the vines which I expect to ripen this week and next. The plants grew exponentially while we were camping. I thought I’d left twice as much space as last year between plants to have room for weeding and walking. Right now, half of each plant is staked and the rest of the giant is crawling along the floor heavy-laden with fruit. Staking now will surely break the plants. I’ll have to let it go and see what happens.

No sign of the wretched tomato worms. Yet. And that is all the press-time we will give them.

The Roma tomato plants did not fair well this year… probably due to location next to the beans and excessive weeds. There are 3 or four fruits ripening, but I think 2 of my four plants are goners.

The green peppers that usually hate me? I have 4 little guys growing and looking normal. I am not convinced yet, but it’s a promising sign. The poblano peppers… I forgot to look for. They are behind the mammoth broccoli. Which reminds me that the cilantro plant was lovely and perfect… used for several meals before vacation… is now lost in the potato jungle.

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.
• Ralph Waldo Emerson

The four kale plants are also doing very well. Kale is a very pretty plant. Who knew? I’ve yet to make anything with kale… advice or direction?

The green bean teepee is a huge success. As Rylie says, “WHOA.” No beans yet, but we were late to start so I am expecting those to start this week.

Yellow raspberries are blooming but are being eaten by bugs. We’ve managed to snatch a couple of fruits here and there but are not trying super hard to save the crop.

Blackberries are past flowering and nearly ripened. Almost all the green fruit is beginning to color. Last year’s crop was so large and so lovely… my mouth is watering. We’re hoping the raspberry bugs don’t hop plants.

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
• H. Jackson Brown, Jr. 

In summary: everything doing well. Everything needs intense weeding. Our week of 100˚weather also brought very low motivation to do anything other than swim in Trace’s pool. I’m not mad about that.

My children are still completely color blind. Lots of green tomatoes were picked last night out of excitement. BUT, they love the garden and I love that they love the garden.

Chad mentioned in the last garden post that my plant markers would grow legs and I am here to say he is a prophet.

The baby chickadees grew up and flew the coop. Two days later, a mamma robin moved in and laid 5 eggs. They are in their awkward feather-growing stage, but are easily the most-loved things in the garden.

Before planting this year, the garden received about 3 loads of composted chicken coop shavings and poo. Before our 10-day camping adventure, 2 blessed-angel-moms and their kiddos came out and worked for 3 hours with me prepping the coop and garden for the upcoming neglect. Fresh everything: fresh shavings, washed water bowls, weeding, staking plants, shaving mulch spread all over the garden. When I returned? Both the coop and garden looked exactly as we’d left it nearly 2 weeks before. Pretty as a picture. It was amazing. Again, things can change quickly, especially with a couple weeks of humidity and little weeding in daylight hours, but the garden has definitely received more loving care than ever this year and the crops are thanking us. I am hoping I can get out there and prune/clean/weed a bit this week and get things under control.

The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.
• George Bernard Shaw 

 


2013 garden inventory

 

 

[warning: picture-heavy post]

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

I am trying, so very hard, to make a garden worthy of the colonies. I have dreams of bean pole tents and sunflower arbors, a bench here or there, and children merrily carrying watering cans through the straw-covered paths.

Too bad I kill 50% of what I plant, am terrified of tomato worms, and forget to weed.

But I try. I’m going to try. This year will be better. I’m turning over a new leaf.

Look! I managed to get fencing up on all four sides, though the fence mocks me. It does. It it neither straight nor plumb, but it keeps the chickens out. ALSO, I did it without the help of Curtis James (and it shows, you say). It saved him a day of measuring and making things perfect. Right now, it works, and that’s all I need.

layout 1

One third of the garden is still grass… that far right strip. The strawberry patch will move in there after this year. And that back right post surely is crooked. Wow. But, easily fixed. You can’t see the entrance… did you know it’s hard to take a wide, sweeping photo of fence and dirt? It is. But you enter on the bottom left of the photograph- right before that black tire. It’s an angled entrance. Fancy, I know.

tomatoes

It’s a big year for tomatoeshere at TexasNorth– 12 plants. We are out of salsa, tomato sauce, and crushed tomatoes. There are also 8 plants of cherry/grape tomatoes. Because I cannot help myself. They are so rewarding to grow. Did I mention Curt hates tomatoes? Expect some on your doorstep.

peppers

Bell peppers (both green and orange) and some poblano peppers for salsa. Peppers hate me in the garden, so we’ll just see how this plays out. I am determined to win this fight. Rylie loves peppers.

onionskale

Onions and kale. We’ve never eaten kale before, so that’ll be… awesome. Also, never stored onions before… advice welcome.

bird collage

The SouthEast fence post has a birdhouse on it, and it was quickly inhabited this year by a mamma Chickadee and her eggs. They hatched 2 weeks ago and are doing well.

berries

My berry bushes line the Western border, outside the fence. There are blackberries, yellow raspberries, strawberries, and one lone surviving blueberry plant. The strawberry hill will be moved inside the fence after this harvest, leaving only the bushes on the outside. This will be a big strawberry year for TexasNorth, too, though I doubt my own personal crop will help much. The freezer is completely out of jam and we all know Gus Man can’t eat a sandwich without JULLY.

beansbroccoli

Alright. We’ve got broccoli (which has never worked for me), and a green bean tent (which I’ve never managed to pick and freeze in time). Worst-case: a play-area for the kids. Best case: a freezer full of green beans. Which reminds me: do you freeze your green beans or can them? 

basilcilantropotato

That’s sweet basil on top, potatoes on the bottom, and cilantro on the right. I’ve never grown cilantro or potatoes before… big learning curve here. When to trim? When to cover? When to pick? How to store? No idea.

Not planted yet: cucumbers, butternut squash, and yellow squash. All of the above was planted last Saturday and I just could not dig another hole to get them in. My legs STILL hurt. Abby is STILL covered in chicken coop shavings. It’s embarrassing. But, I’m purty darn proud of the results. It’s a great garden. Surely I’ll get at least one tomato out of there. The plants cost me $50 total. Not a bad investment at all, I say.

So, uh, wanna come help me weed?  

I’ve got lemonade 🙂


mary mary quite contrary


Let’s jump right in.

It was our first time for growing sunflowers… success and super fun to watch them open and follow the sun during the day.  We’ll do this again next year and maybe try to make a fort out of it.  The beans and peas never got planted.  I think a fort is in order for those next year, as well.  Maybe a la SouleMamma’s metal arbor?  I planted green peppers… again.  I do this every year and every year they laugh at me.  From now on, no more green peppers.  Just get those at the farmer’s market, Kate. #remindme

I bought some extra blueberry  and raspberry bushes on clearance and tried to plant those last night.  Better judgement would have reminded me that I had 3 children, no husband, a serious head cold, and ground as solid as cement, but we went for it.  Every one came in soaked, as you can imagine.  We’re soaking the ground to let me dig a few more inches tomorrow.  OR, we’ll wait until Dad and his muscles are able to get home before dusk.

The blueberry bushes are forcing the June-bearing strawberries to be relocated.  There was no jam this year, so we will be forced to eek out what we can from last year’s bounty.  We surely won’t make it through the year, but we’ll have a fighting start.  I haven’t bought store jam in 3 years, and I don’t think we could go back!  I need to brush up on transplanting.  Moving the strawberries and adding the blueberry bushes will create a hedge of blackberries, then blueberries, then yellow raspberries along the West garden fence.  I need to draw you a map.

(That’s Ry watering, Gus waving, and the bull out back… watching.  He stood there for a good 30 minutes taking in all in.  We’re a show, People.  We are our own show.)

The strawberries will be relocated into a permanent, more protected area within a fenced garden (hence the poles and holes everywhere).  A fence will let the chickens roam without eating all my squash and tomatoes and it’ll keep the bunnies at bay. #fingerscrossed

I planted blackberries and red raspberries last year.  We lost all the raspberry bushes (I believe they met their fate with a weed whipper, but that has been denied) but the black berries have flourished.  They were so. good.  And HUGE!  And, overnight, they’re done.  I’m learning as I go.  Tomorrow, I’ll cut all the canes down that gave us berries this year to let the new canes grow.

The corn died a terrible death… not sure what happened, exactly, but we planted 10 rows and had 4 stalks grow.  SO, that half of the garden was tilled under earlier this summer.  It’s now a dust patch for the chickens, who applauded the change.

I planted 2 butternut squash plants and they are taking over the garden.  We should be set for years.   The onions are in there under the squash vines and are doing just fine.  I need to brush up on winter storage methods.

The tomatoes- all 16 pants, some cherry, some roma, some heritage- are enormous.  I fought the tomato worms this year and won, and now the plants are so big they are snapping their stakes in half.  I should have pruned a bit harder at the start, but, well, I didn’t.  So there.  The fruit will be medium-sized instead of gi-normous, and that’s just fine.  I did plant basil plants in-between each tomato plant because I’d heard it helps ward off the caterpillars, but it was a no-go for me.  The basil is doing just fine, though, so I see some frozen pesto in our future.

2012 expected harvest: tomatoes, sunflowers, butternut squash, 3 different onions I can’t remember now, blackberries, sweet basil, and a handful of strawberries we ate before they made it inside.

More photos HERE!

How does your garden grow?


what the what

Seriously.

Why do I even try?

No plants, or anything beautiful ever, real or fake, will survive this farm as long as Gideon and Blue are on the loose.

9:04am, right planter

12:34pm, left planter

4:40pm, back to the right again

Suggestions as to what, exactly, I could put on our large front step (which is about 4′ by 6′) that would be welcoming but indestructible are welcome and very much needed.  Go.


to the trees

Ah, Spring.

I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend, Spring Break, and/or Passover.  We celebrate all three at TexasNorth.  Pass the latkes.

The sunshine lately has started to loosen winter’s grip on me.  It doesn’t have to be warm, per se… just bright.  I do very much miss the sun when it is gone. I never learned that about myself until I moved to Michigan and saw that people are sad for most of January, February, and March.  God was not messing around with the whole Light and dark theme- literally or figuratively.  He’s pretty brilliant about extended metaphors.

When the sun is out, so are we.  While Curtis James was in Austin last week, Ry and I worked on another time-buster.  This one went decidedly better than the flowers thanks to Gus being banish-ed from the project.  Please.  Acrylic paint?  Not a chance.  This one couldn’t be easier:

Simply gather a bunch of large-ish rocks, have your kiddo(s) paint the background color,

And then finish by painting the crop name on top.  I should grab a smaller brush and put the year planted, too.  Just thought of that.

I want very much to do this with samples of all our trees on the property (which are surprisingly few, as this used to be cleared pasture land) as well as the garden.

These apple trees are very special to me… our first fruit trees, one for Rylie and one for Gideon.  Abby will get hers this year (metaphors abound here, too… but that’s for another day).  I knew we’d forget over time what kind of goodies we were growing, so I thought this would be a quick way to label.  Love me some labeling.  

Now to find rocks for the blackberry bushes, the blueberry bushes, the strawberries… and maybe a few for basics like tomatoes and peppers.  I love that all the rocks are unique… that Ry helped me (even just a little bit)… that it’s another ‘theme’ (like HERE)… that it’s simple… that the rocks are super heavy.

It will take Gus all day to carry them and move them and hide them.  I should have plenty of time to catch him before SQUASH becomes CORN.

As an aside, a reflection, an admission or what-have-you…

I thought that my history of teaching and leading ropes courses and being a camp counselor and  Red Cross babysitter would give me the creativity and desire to have these kind of projects at-the-ready when I had kids.  Learning all the time!  Fun all the time!  Creative all the time!  Sadly, my laziness wins 90% of the time I have an opportunity to do things Awesome instead of Basic.  I find myself crashing through life more than sailing… largely due to my serious aversion to planning.  I’d like to change that… or at least get better at it.  I bet my crazy days would be at least a teensy bit more bearable if I had a fun surprise ready if the stars aligned.  Especially this summer.

That being said, I am very pleased with myself for thinking ahead on the planting and the painting… two very short projects but ones that involved the kids and let us spend time together in non-routine ways.  Baby steps, people.  Baby steps.

I started a Kid and Play board over at Pinterest to save all the great lists and ideas I come across.  Some of these women I read about are insane and I kinda wanna punch them (hey)… but it’s certainly good for inspiration.  Lemme know how you work creativity and fun into your kids’ life.  


killer salsa

My favorite salsa recipe:

  • 8-10 cups of tomatoes, chopped and drained of juice (I use 10 cups)
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2-4 jalapenos, chopped (I use 2)
  • cilantro, chopped 
  • 3 onions (small to medium), chopped 
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper (this kicks a bit, which is why I only use 2 jalapenos)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup or less of white sugar
  • 6 oz. tomato paste

Throw everything in a large pot, simmer for at least one hour (or several intervals over a couple of days if you’re me and have crazy children WHO TOUCH EVERYTHING), and then ladle into hot jars and water bath for 20 minutes. I get 5 pints out of this batch… pretty small compared to some of the recipes out there.  But, it’s great for one day of salsa-making.  You can also put this straight in the fridge (without canning) for up to a month. I don’t recommend freezing salsa… it thaws a bit mealy and just isn’t quite the same level of awesomeness.  Use it immediately, or can it for the rest of the year.

Let me be frank here: I am no canning expert, and neither was your grandmother.  Hot water baths for canning salsa are ONLY OK if the recipe comes from a trusted canning and kitchen website.  Tomatoes themselves are acidic, as is the vinegar, but every other ingredient you add or subtract changes that pH level.  Even one little bell pepper.  I know.  It’s a little crazy… but you just want to be extra careful.  It’s going to be sitting on your shelf for up to a year and we want it to be yummy and safe.  When in doubt, use a pressure canner. 

That being said, this is a friend’s recipe I’ve used ever since I’ve been canning on my own… 5 years maybe?  I hot water bath this recipe- as listed- and have had no trouble with spoilage or anything else.  But, again, I am a mere farm maiden mortal. 

Happy salsa-making!

a couple of great websites for you:

http://www.pickyourown.org/allaboutcanning.htm

http://www.freshpreserving.com/home.aspx

http://www.canningpantry.com/using-pressure-canners.html

http://www.simplycanning.com/pressure-canning.html


strawberry hill

Last night, yours truly used a mitre saw, a shovel, a hammer, a bobcat, a riding lawn mower, and a metal rake.  Giddy up.  The garden composted, tilled, and ready for planting this weekend!  I’m sure that’s crazy to those of you who are already harvesting goodness, but Michigan is Zone 5 and few people chance planting before May 15. I’m really a terrible gardener, so I don’t even start seedlings.  I buy started plants from our local nursery so I have some small amount of success.  Small. I need all the help I can get.

This year, I really want to grow things we eat.  Sounds simple, I know.  But it can be so easy to go gangbusters at the seed store and come home with all kinds of things… and then you’ve got a wild garden with 40 sub-species growing and all you’re actually eating are the cherry tomatoes.  This year, I am open to new crops but I want them to be big-time crops for us. 

Main attractions this year: corn, tomatoes (lots and lots… last year was dismal for tomatoes and I wasn’t able to can ANY), squash, zucchini, green beans (a bean tunnel maybe!), cucumbers, carrots, onions, and potatoes. My broccoli and peppers are always awful… so I’m happily leaning on our farmer’s market across the road for those.

Now: root veggies.  We eat lots and lots of these.  I’ve NEVER grown them before, so I welcome any advice and instruction.  Please be as elementary as possible.  Potatoes, carrots, and onions.  How to plant?  How to tell when they’re ready?  How to store for winter usage?  Bring it.

Also new this year: raspberry bushes, blueberry bushes, AND strawberries!  Freezer jam is an absolute necessity in this house and I generally spend $28 on fruit each year to make it.  Strawberries are perennials that can survive winter.  Why am I not growing my own?  Sometimes, I’m a little slow to punch in, Folks.  I give you: strawberry hill.

The frame is made from leftover roof trusses Curt scored from a builder.  We’ve used them in every project we’ve ever made out here.  They are the literally the fabric of our farm. The bottom square (cut by me) is 5 feet x 5 feet.  The middle layer (cut by… me) is 3 feet square.  The top layer (cut by… mmmmhmmmm… me) is 1 foot square.  It holds 25 strawberry plants.  I’ve NO IDEA if it will yield enough for us, but it sure looks awesome. [edited for my notes: the 2 varieties planted here are Earliglow and Sparkle.  Both are Junebearing, but very hearty.]

Ry and I got the idea from my favorite catalog, which had the measurements and quantities already laid out for me.  Brilliant.  Saved: $149 + shipping.  The plants cost me $24 and will be covered with netting to avoid becoming dessert for the chickens and bunnies.  I love this compact, raised-bed system for berries.  It will be easier to weed and cover for winter. 

Please notice Ry’s tools.  I’m not sure how the silverware plays into this whole scheme, but they were important.  Went everywhere with us.

And here’s my little Gus Man.  Dirtiest kid alive, my hand to heaven, and absolutely no help in the garden.  But oh so squishable.

So, that’s the beginning of the garden and berry patch.  The raspberries and blueberries will take a couple years to yield anything measurable, but it has always been a dream of mine to have a berry patch that you can mosey by and grab a snack.  I’m excited.  I’m excited, I tell you, and I got nothin’ but time.

Y’all have a great weekend!  Are you planting anything this year?

Blessings to you from TexasNorth.

We sure do like you.


compost and other dirty words

I give you all permission to make the changes to your homes that you dreamed about on Thursday.  Send me pictures, ok?

I love April because I’m not behind on anything yet.  According to this schedule, I’m completely fine!  But in another month, I’ll still be looking for plants… putting up garden fence… hauling compost.  Late to the party.  I need more kids to help out around here. Make a note: have more children.

Now, your kitchen scraps, plant leaves, paper, and other organic trash has a better home than the landfill: in the compost.  You may think composting is something only manageable in the boonies, but YOU’RE WRONG.  And, I mean that in the nicest way possible.  Saturday, The Franklin Farm was host to its 2nd annual “Till -n- Turd.” Smack-dab in the center of G-Rap!  Basically, Holly convinces a bunch of people that they should come over and spread cow poop all over their yard. It’s awesome.

From Holly:  My husband and I have a “cow share” so that we can have raw milk. Basically, we own a portion of a cow and therefore have legal rights to its “by-products”  of raw milk and… manure.  Our farmer composts the manure until it’s just about the best organic fertilizer ever, and we get to pick up a truckload of it for our use.  We drive back from the countryside, through the center of the city to our little homestead with a truckload of poop. It gets spread by the bucketful throughout our yard, then tilled into the garden beds.

We’ve got three trash bins in our kitchen:

  • Reuse: That’s the compost, getting turned into soil for “reuse.”
  • Recycle: The (free) city recycling program. That is, by far, the largest bin.
  • Reduce: The regular trash goes into the smallest of the three bins, thanks to the other two.

Because of our recycling and composting and intentional shopping, it takes 2 or 3 weeks to fill a city garbage bag, even with a newborn in disposable diapers. I’d like to say it’s because we care so much about the earth, but honestly what kept us doing the separating in the beginning was the saved money and the bragging rights that our garbage had been cut down to 1/4 of what it was before was started composting and recycling. Now it’s just so normal we don’t even need motivation: it’s just the way life is.

The garden, meanwhile, is still smelling like …ahem… the country today. I know it will pay off this summer when our produce just seems to produce much more than other friends in the city with gardens. Thanks to a day of spreading composted manure around our yard, and a few days of noticing that smell, our tomatoes will be weighed down with fruit, our watermelon will produce well over a dozen fruits per plant, and the whole yard in general will be “going to town,” as they say.

Do you have a recycling and/or compost system?

At TexasNorth, we have LOTS of animal by-product.  Awesome.  You are welcome to it ANY TIME.  I’m not kidding.  I very much want a compost tumbler (like this one) that will sit neatly off the back porch and make beautiful potting dirt, but another person I live with thinks I’m crazy with a k.  That’s fine.  That’s just FINE.  Right now, the table scraps that don’t go to the barn cats or chickens go in a horribly un-cute 5-gallon bucket on the back porch.  Eventually, this bucket makes it out to the big bi-product piles and mixes in.

The unsightly bucket sits next to some very chic 30-gallon metal trash cans.  One holds aluminum and plastic soda pop cans and the other holds metal and plastic I take to the Rockford transfer station once a month. The black signs are just scrap wood painted with chalkboard paint.  The bins are large enough that I’m not changing bags every week and can handle a party or two before overflowing.

Gardening daunting to me.  I’m terrible at it.  But, help abounds.  The web is full of fun people and places that can help you grow one or 40 plants in an apartment, a 40-acre farm, or anywhere in-between.

  • My favorite gardening supplier is HERE.  I want one of everything in their catalog.  They makes me feel like I can grow broccoli, which is not true and has been proven many times… but they make me feel that way and I like them.
  • This is a great website to help you in your garden.
  • Triscuit has a super fun new website that will help you plant your own garden and talk to other folks… plus the design is cute cute cute.
  • Here’s a great site to find out more about heirloom seeds.
  • Local Harvest will help you find the closest garden to you that sells shares of their product… all you have to do is pay once a season and pick up the goods!  They also have a seed section.

So, dig in.  Get your hands dirty, plant some tomatoes on your porch if nothing else, and reap the harvest of the season.  It feels amazing, and tastes even better.


urban gardens, continued

Holly and her husband, Masi (tall, dark, handsome, and European) own The Franklin Farm here in Grand Rapids. They’re also passionate about intentional living- community, conversation, co-creating.  Gardening is making a huge comeback in popularity- especially in the cities- as people realize they both want and need more personal control over their food.  But, gardening within city concrete can be hard.  I asked Holly a few questions about the community garden at The Franklin Farm, and she obliged.  Here’s part 2 of Urban Gardening (part 1 can be read HERE).

I shall entice you with a photo from the front-yard garden first:

Front yard:  in the front yard, we get a little more decorative (though still edible) with our plants. We trail scarlet runner beans up the front of the porches, and plant yellow orange and red nasturtiums all over. Hiding within that are winter squash..with their giant yellow blooms. By mid-july it’s the most lush cacophony of colors on the block.

Best thing about growing produce in the city?

The best thing about growing produce Anywhere is being able to walk out your kitchen door and get still-warm tomatoes, fresh herbs, and some greens and have an instant gorgeous dinner. The great thing about doing it so completely in the city is that you challenge your neighbors and friends to rethink how they utilize the land they have around them. We’ve noticed several neighbors planting flowers since we started, in yards that were previously neglected completely. Because of our shared interest in growing things, we can also have conversations with our neighbors-about things other than the weather!

Hardest thing about gardening in the city?

I know for some people it can be finding good soil and enough sun. Thankfully, we have a cow share for raw milk …and any other animal by-products are thus part of our ownership as well.  That takes care of the poor soil problem! I distinctly remember while house shopping making sure that the back yard, at least, would not be shady. That was on our list of needs for our home.

Do you fertilize or plant and pray?

We don’t do anything chemical, but we don’t just plant and pray either. We fertilize with organic cow manure, tilling in at the beginning of the year (and apologizing to the neighbors for the odd smell for a couple days). That seems to be plenty! Then we bring in beneficial bugs like ladybugs and praying mantis to ward off other bugs. We also ring all our beds with a small row of either garlic or onion-those smells do a good job of keeping predators out. (Please visulalize Katie taking notes here.)

I love the idea of a communuty garden and shared-work.  How do you divy up the communal bounty between share-holders of the garden?

We have four households in our community, and everyone wants to be a part of the garden! But those households have different limitations of time, so we have a system to make sure everyone kind of gets what they give.  We just keep a rough estimate going (so rough: like “a lot, somewhat, not much at all” kinds of estimates), and the more you put in to the garden, the more you get back. So if one household doesn’t end up doing much in the garden, they don’t get much of the “haul.” Basically, everyone can step out back to get things for dinner as needed/wanted and then the excess gets divided up according to those estimates. So our onion crop last year, for example, produced about 350 onions.  Some of us got a bucketful, some of us got a small bag. And everyone felt like they were getting more than they had put in the work to deserve. 
 
Best books for learning about gardening?

I’ve really enjoyed the books Food not Lawns and Grow Great Grub.  Those are specifically for the city environment, and have some basics and some fun projects.  

Are you and Masi equally yoked in the garden or does one person handle most of the dirty work?

Massi loves nurturing, so he’s the one who is constantly out there checking on everything, making sure everything is watered. He’s the constant caretaker. I, on the other hand, go gangbusters in the spring, setting everything up and organizing, then I slow down for a few months, then I go gangbusters again, harvesting and cooking and preserving and putting up for the winter. So over the year, we’re pretty equal. And we both get to focus on the part that we enjoy!  The dirty work, for us, is the weeding. It’s very satisfying once you get started, but it’s too easy to put off.

From Holly:  We will, in fact, be letting people know about events and things happening at The Franklin Farm (in the garden or otherwise) on our facebook page. Also, I’m not opposed at all to having people come and visit, maybe get some practice in if they’d like to get some “project based learning.” But seriously: they can come try it out, see how it’s done, get a feel for what it’s like for your backyard to become a farm. As it turns out, it’s not all that odd and pretty gorgeous. It’s a great way to get “out of the city” without leaving the city.

From KatieKate:  I’ve got one more post up my sleeve involving compost & manure in the city, buying plants, building raised beds, and all that jazz next Monday.  Until then, you can find Holly HERE, HERE, and HERE

Onions curing:  this is our dining table, full of about 400 onions-they had to be harvested, but it was forecasted to be a rainy week. so instead of curing them outside, our home smelled like onions and dirt for a week straight.  I’m not gonna lie, I loved it.